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Introduction

The Sun is the source of energy for most of life on Earth. As a star, the Sun is heated to high temperatures by the conversion of nuclear binding energy due to the fusion of hydrogen in its core. This energy is ultimately transferred (released) into space mainly in the form of radiant (light) energy.

In physics, energy is the quantitative property that must be transferred to an object in order to perform work on, or to heat, the object. Energy is a conserved quantity; the law of conservation of energy states that energy can be converted in form, but not created or destroyed. The SI unit of energy is the joule, which is the energy transferred to an object by the work of moving it a distance of 1 metre against a force of 1 newton.

Common forms of energy include the kinetic energy of a moving object, the potential energy stored by an object's position in a force field (gravitational, electric or magnetic), the elastic energy stored by stretching solid objects, the chemical energy released when a fuel burns, the radiant energy carried by light, and the thermal energy due to an object's temperature.

Mass and energy are closely related. Due to mass–energy equivalence, any object that has mass when stationary (called rest mass) also has an equivalent amount of energy whose form is called rest energy, and any additional energy (of any form) acquired by the object above that rest energy will increase the object's total mass just as it increases its total energy. For example, after heating an object, its increase in energy could be measured as a small increase in mass, with a sensitive enough scale.

Living organisms require exergy to stay alive, such as the energy humans get from food. Human civilization requires energy to function, which it gets from energy resources such as fossil fuels, nuclear fuel, or renewable energy. The processes of Earth's climate and ecosystem are driven by the radiant energy Earth receives from the sun and the geothermal energy contained within the earth.


Selected article

Oilshale.jpg
Oil shale, an organic-rich fine-grained sedimentary rock, contains significant amounts of kerogen (a solid mixture of organic chemical compounds) from which technology can extract liquid hydrocarbons. The name oil shale represents a double misnomer, as geologists would not necessarily classify the rock as a shale, and its kerogen differs from crude oil. Kerogen requires more processing to use than crude oil, which increases its cost as a crude-oil substitute both financially and in terms of its environmental impact.

Deposits of oil shale occur around the world, including major deposits in the United States of America. Estimates of global deposits range from 2.8 trillion to 3.3 trillion barrels (450×109 to 520×109 m3) of recoverable oil.

The chemical process of pyrolysis can convert the kerogen in oil shale into synthetic crude oil. Heating oil shale to a sufficiently high temperature will drive off a vapor which processing can distill (retort) to yield a petroleum-like shale oil—a form of unconventional oil—and combustible oil-shale gas (the term shale gas can also refer to gas occurring naturally in shales). Industry can also burn oil shale directly as a low-grade fuel for power generation and heating purposes and can use it as a raw material in chemical and construction-materials processing.

Oil shale has gained attention as an energy resource as the price of conventional sources of petroleum has risen and as a way for some areas to secure independence from external suppliers of energy. At the same time, oil-shale mining and processing involve a number of environmental issues, such as land use, waste disposal, water use, waste-water management, greenhouse-gas emissions and air pollution. Estonia and China have well-established oil shale industries, and Brazil, Germany, Israel and Russia also utilize oil shale. Read more...


Selected image

Coal power plant Datteln 2 Crop1.png

Photo credit: From an image by Arnold Paul
Coal-fired power stations transform chemical energy into 36%-48% electricity and 52%-64% waste heat.


Did you know?

Compact-Fluorescent-Bulb.jpg
  • Positive lightning bolts are typically six to ten times more powerful than normal lightning — and aircraft are not designed to withstand them?
  • Dark energy is a hypothetical form of energy which permeates all of space?

Selected biography

Sheikh Ahmed Zaki Yamani (born 1930) was Saudi Arabia's Minister of Oil (Petroleum) and Mineral Resources from 1962 until 1986, and a minister in OPEC for 25 years. He is best known for his role in the 1973 oil crisis, when OPEC quadrupled the price of crude oil.

Yamani gained a degree from Harvard Law School and a master's in Comparative Jurisprudence from New York University. After working in the Saudi Ministry of Finance, in 1958 be became a legal advisor to Faisal, then Crown Prince and Prime Minister, until Faisal's resignation in 1960. After Faisal's return to government, in 1962 Yamani replaced Abdallah Tariki as Oil Minister, playing an important role in the development of OPEC. During the 1967 Arab–Israeli War Yamani spoke against the use of an Arab oil embargo. The following year he lead the founding of the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries.

When Arab–Israeli hostilities resumed with the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the pressure to join the other Arab states, who wished to use oil to change the apparent pro-Israeli policy of the United States government, was irresistible. Yamani's proposal of increasing monthly cuts in production was accepted and, together with a later embargo against the US and the Netherlands and a quadrupling of the oil price, severely affected the economies of all western nations. Despite this, by resisting more extreme proposals Yamani became increasingly seen as pro-American in the Arab world. Read more...


In the news

23 March 2019 –
The Wall Street Journal reports that former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling, released from prison in February after serving 12 years for fraud and insider trading following Enron's 2001 collapse, is planning a return to the energy business, helming a "digital platform connecting investors to oil and gas projects". (The Wall Street Journal).

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